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Senators address repealing salary raises

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 by Krystal Paco

Guam - Lawmakers addressed legislation late yesterday afternoon to repeal salary increases to elected leaders and cabinet members. And while the measure failed to pass, the bill's author says he's not giving up on the matter. Just as fast as they were called into session to address Bill 435, lawmakers were just as quick to shoot down the idea.

Bill 435 was introduced by Senator Michael San Nicolas and would repeal pay raises and retro pay for elected leaders and cabinet members. "For me when the facts are very clear and they're articulated well and they're presented in a way that is compelling, it's very difficult for us to make a decision against something like that so yes I'm disappointed," he said.

During Tuesday's session, several senators expressed their support for Bill 1-8-s that initially was passed by a majority of senators less than a month ago allowing for the raises. Senator Aline Yamashita says while leadership positions are sometimes a thankless job, people who serve still need to make ends meet and needing a salary is a part of life.

"It is so important to make this position, this opportunity viable for every single person on this island, not just those who have good retirement plans, not just those who have successful private business, but for every single person that wants to serve. You earn this money, you want to give this to somebody else, you want to donate it, you want to contribute it, then that's your decision, but then there are those of us, and many of us in this position, we have a lot of bills to pay, we have a lot of needs that we need to look forward," she stated.

And while the checks for the retro pay dating back to January have yet to be issued, San Nicolas says the fight isn't over. Senator San Nicolas said, "We may try in the 33rd Guam Legislature with the new senators coming in, that way we can see where they stand on the issue as well and then there's always the question whether this can be put forward as a referendum item and if the body won't pass a referendum for the people to decide, we can always go out and get the signatures for it so this is definitely not over. I'm hoping we can resolve it in an expeditious fashion so we don't have to drag the community through this for a long period of time."

San Nicolas adds if and when he does receive his retro pay and raise, if he can't pull it all together for a big project, he will do smaller community projects. 
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